When Blue is the Warmest Color — Abdellatif Kechiche's controversial Palme d'Or-winning romantic teen drama — hits theaters in select US cities today, one theater will be pushing the envelope right along with it.
According to a statement released by the IFC Center in Greenwich Village, "high school age patrons" will be allowed to see the film — which infamously features a lengthy, highly graphic lesbian sex scene — with or without an adult.
This despite the Motion Picture Association of America's NC-17 rating, which restrict viewing of the film to individuals 17 years of age or older.
While, as the New York Times' film reviewer A.O. Scott notes, the MPAA's ratings are "without legal or contractual force," they are very rarely ignored (see unrated documentary This Film Is Not Yet Rated for much more on this).
And what makes this flouting even more dramatic is the fact that the IFC Center is owned by the same parent company as the film's distributor, Sundance Selects.
In other words, the same label that handed the film to the MPAA to receive the rating it did.
"This is not a movie for young children, but it is our judgment that it is not inappropriate for mature, inquiring teenagers who are looking ahead to the emotional challenges and opportunities that adulthood holds," said IFC Center GM John Vanco in his statement.
Indeed, the film — a coming-of-age story about a 15-year-old who becomes romantically involved with a "blue-haired art student" — seems far more appropriate for teens discovering their own identity than for adults who have already ripened theirs.
Which is probably why the same film was awarded a "12" rating in France — its "second-least restrictive classification," per Scott, or "roughly equivalent to our PG-13."